Thursday, January 15, 2015

Preview: Palestine v. Jordan (2015 Asian Cup)


Game Information:
What: Asian Cup Group D
Where: Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia
When: January 16, 2015
Kickoff: 0700 GMT

Streams: Follow Palestine national football team on facebook. You can also access streams in the sports section of pal24.net


Previous Encounters:
Palestine 1:1 Jordan (October 2008)
Palestine 1:1 Jordan (December 2002)
Jordan 5:1 Palestine (April 2000)
Jordan 4:1 Palestine (August 1999)
Jordan 2:0 Palestine (August 1999)
Jordan 1:1 Palestine (July 2008)

Palestine Form: LWLDL
Jordan Form: LLLLL

Previous Matchday: Palestine fell 4-0 to defending champions Japan in predictable fashion. An early goal, the result of a lack of concentration set the tone for the Blue Samurai and a soft penalty put them up 3-0 before the break. Palestine played a more composed game in the second half but the damage was already done. 

Jordan played a nervy encounter against Iraq with both teams knowing that a loss in this match would represent a knockout blow to any quarterfinal hopes. Jordan's compact shape frustrated the Iraqis who had to wait until the 74th minute to find a breakthrough. Jordan's attacking struggles continued with the team managing a meager three shots on goal over the 90 minutes. Things would go bad to worse for the Nashama  with Anas Bani Yaseen being sent off for a second bookable offence with six minutes to play. 

Absences

Palestine and Jordan will be without key defensive pieces in Ahmed Harbi and Anas Bani Yaseen, their suspensions will test squad depth. 

Ahmed El-Hassan will replace Harbi with Tamer Salah a surprise inclusion in the final squad. 

Jordan manager, Ray Wilkins is a little less clear with the six listed defenders all starting the match against Iraq. 

Jordan will be without the services of the prolific Ahmed Hayel. The striker was unable to take part in a mandatory drug test and will be suspended as a result.

Palestine will officially miss the services of Alexis Norambuena with fullback suffering a recurrence of his ACL strain.

Prematch Press Conference 

 Ahmed El-Hassan confirmed the absence of Alexis Norambuena through injury. When asked about why additional players hadn't been called up he stated "I'm fine with players at my disposal I do not see a need to bring anyone else."

Abdelatif Bahdari Was quizzed about playing against so many Al-Wehdat temmates. With a grin in his face Bahdari stated "I'll play against seven of my friends, I know them and hopefully I'll be able to put in a performance that delivers us a win."

The Jordanian contingent provided more color in their press conference. Odai Al-Saify was disappointed to hear Jibril Rajoub comments regarding Ray Wilkins position.

For his part, Ray Wilkins didn't really answer any questions put forth to him. He stated that he loved life.

Other highlights:

"My mum thinks I'm gorgeous, she's the only one."

"I'm alive, I'm breathing fresh air. Listen, I love football. No one hates losing more than I do."

My main takeaway from the press conference is that Jordan seems to be a team in dissaray. Palestine are the more confident bunch and for all of Wilkins's expertise dealing with the media he really misread the temprature of the room- perhaps that had something to do with the alcohol more than one reporter smelled on his breath.

Tactics

The question coming into this match is whether or not Jordan have a Plan B. The ideas Ray Wilkins has tried to implement have clearly not worked. Under Adnan Hamed, Jordan were perhaps the best counterattacking side in Asia. Their ability to turn defence into attack helped them beat the likes of Australia and Japan. The countless encounters Jordan had with Iraq also ended in favor of the Nashama on most occasions. 

Even under the maligned Hossam Hasan the team continued their positive play; as they made easy work of their qualifying group.

Wilkins has had no success with this team. With only two points secured out of a possible 30. He has dropped the past five matches and his team has only managed to score once in those matches. The only positive for Jordan? They are pretty hard to score against. 

Contrary to perception Palestine did try to attack Japan. They had a respectable 75% successful pass rate and won 16 of the 18 tackles they went into.

Both teams will have to open up of they are to have any chance of winning this game. Jordan will be without their main goal getter in Ahmed Hayel. In many ways tactics won't play a big part in this one as the teams are so evenly matched and will cancel each other out with theie two defensive midfielders.

That said, in terms of intangibles Palestine have the upper hand and should be able to exploit that.

Prediction:
Palestine 2:0 Jordan